New citizens sworn in
MONTICELLO, NY — On April 5, 25 immigrants were sworn in as new U.S. citizens at the courthouse in Monticello.
The countries of origin were diverse, and included Australia, Belgium, Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad, Denmark, Egypt, Iran, Poland, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Montserrat and Peru.
County Clerk Dan Briggs said the swearing-in ceremony of new citizens is always one of the highlights of the year.
Judge Frank LaBuda, who performed the oath, said to the new citizens, “You followed your dream to this country, and the opportunity in this country is virtually boundless. I guess that’s the reason why my grandparents came, you came, and many others in the future will come: because we are the land of opportunity.”
Congressman John Faso also briefly addressed the applicants and said, “We are all Americans, we come from many backgrounds, many faiths, many beliefs, but we are all united under the belief in the Constitution, in the belief that here, the people govern, and that is what you are part of today.”
In order to become citizens, immigrants must swear an oath of allegiance that includes, “that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law….”
All 25 participants swore the oath and received their certificates of citizenship.
Alan from Iran (who didn’t give a last name) said his mother actually started the process of becoming a U.S. citizen for him many years ago. Now 26 years old, he arrived in this country when he was 11. As to why he became a citizen, he said, “I’ve been here so long and I feel like an American, so I wanted to make it official.”
Jose Herrera, who lives in Woodbourne, came to the country in 1999. He said for him the process of becoming a citizen took about seven years. He said he did it for his wife and two children, who are already U.S. citizens. He added that he now plans to vote.
Shuying Juan is an artist who was born in Taiwan and now lives in Forestburgh. She said her citizenship status was based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen, and the process took about four years. She said she became a citizen “because I hope I can live in this country forever.” She agreed with LaBuda’s analysis of the country that it’s like a big salad that’s not made only of one ingredient but includes many types of ingredients. “No matter your race, or age, or gender, you have an opportunity to be yourself here.” She added that she hopes this country remains “strong” and continues to allow people from all nations to be part of it.
[For an editorial on the national conversation about immigration, see http://riverreporter.com/opinion-editorial/nation-immigrants.]